Before treatment can begin, I will have two more tests. One is a MUGA scan, which is a nuclear medicine test to evaluate the function of the heart ventricles. This is important to make sure my heart is in good enough shape to handle the type of chemotherapy that I’m going to be taking. The other test will be another MRI to check on some baseline markers for future evaluation.
25 February 2010
Throughout the last week, so many have talked to me about the importance of liking my medical team. Today was my first meeting with Dr. Makhoul. And I’ve already fallen in love with my doctor. He is the real deal! He’s brilliant, patient, jovial, personable, and a big hugger too. He spent over two hours with me explaining everything about cancer, blood cells, chemotherapy, side effects, my diagnosis, and all the rest. Dr. Makhoul is everything you would want in a physician who is your partner in the biggest fight of your life. He is a doctor of the body and the soul. How fortunate we are in Arkansas to have this passionate and talented doctor at the UAMS Cancer Institute.
Here’s the GOOD NEWS! My Pet-Scan and breast MRI show that, other than my right breast and the lymph nodes under my right arm, there are no more active cancer cells in my body. Thank you God, thank you friends for all your love, good prayers and positive juju. This is just the diagnosis I needed to assure myself that this fight can and will have a happy ending!!
Following these tests, and about my treatment:
· Beginning next Friday, I will begin chemotherapy for the next 18 weeks at two-week intervals.
· The first four treatments will be a combination of Adriamycin and Cyclophosphamide.
· The next four chemo treatments will be a drug called Taxol.
· Each of these eight treatments will be followed by an injection of Neulasta – a shot to help me fight the white blood cell deficiency and strengthen my bone marrow, to keep it healthy.
Following the 18 weeks of chemotherapy, hopefully I will have surgery, then probably some more chemo combined with radiation treatment. The truth is, I will be closely monitored and the treatment plan could be adjusted from time to time. But for right now, Dr. Makhoul has outlined his plans to eradicate this mass and kill off other cancer seeds that have probably found their way in other areas of my body. If I were to only have surgery without chemo first, the chances of a cancer recurrence would be between 70-80%. By having chemo BEFORE the surgery, recurrence drops to 30%.
What does all this mean? It means today we received some good news, even though it’s on top of last week’s bad news. This is still a very aggressive cancer, but I have a beatable foe before me. As brother Mike said to me a few minutes ago, “They just told you that the guy you’re going to fight out on the schoolyard is a beatable wimp, and you’re going to win!!” I like how that sounds.
Thank you to friends and family for your wonderful prayers! Tonight is for sure a very good night! I think I will celebrate with a good night's sleep.
Posted by Stacy Sells at 7:16 PM